News / Middle East

Syria Talks End With No Breakthrough

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a stakeout following a meeting with top US and Russian officials on the Syrian conflict at the United Nations office in Geneva, January 11, 2013.
UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a stakeout following a meeting with top US and Russian officials on the Syrian conflict at the United Nations office in Geneva, January 11, 2013.
Lisa SchleinEdward Yeranian
International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says talks with senior U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva ended Friday without a breakthrough about how to end the civil war in Syria.

Brahimi held closed-door talks Friday at United Nations' European headquarters in Switzerland with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

The discussions focused on the implementation of a plan for ending the war, which was proposed by the Action Group for Syria in June.

The plan calls for an immediate cease-fire and for the establishment of a transitional government that could include officials serving under President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups.  

Afterwards, Brahimi told reporters all sides underscored the need for a political solution to the crisis.  But he acknowledged that resolving the crisis in the near future is not likely.

"If you are asking me whether a solution is around the corner, I'm not sure that is the case," he said. "What I am certain of, is that it is, there is an absolute necessity for people to continue to work for such a peaceful solution."

  • Demonstrators hold banners during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, after Friday prayers in Kafranbel, near Idlib, Syria, January 11, 2013 in this picture provided by Shaam News Network.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter uses binoculars near the Menagh military airport, in Aleppo's countryside, Syria, January 10, 2013.
  • A damaged car and buildings covered with snow are seen in the Jouret al Shayah area of Homs, Syria, January 10, 2013.
  • Residents evacuate their houses after being targeted by missiles fired by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 9, 2013.
  • Children sit next to a fire in Aleppo city, Syria, January 9, 2013.
  • Civilians and Free Syrian Army fighters gather at a site hit by a missile in Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 7, 2013.
  • People help a wounded person after a missile hit Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 7, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waving to his supporters after speaking at the Opera House in central Damascus, Syria, January 6, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters, wounded during the battle to capture Taftanaz air base, receive treatment at a field hospital in northern Idlib, Syria, January 6, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds a cat in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 6, 2013.
  • A man rides his bicycle past buildings damaged by shelling in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 6, 2013.
  • A family crosses a street piled with garbage in Aleppo, Syria, January 5, 2013.

Rebels claim gains

Friday's meeting comes as rebels reportedly seized a key Syrian military air base after several days of fighting.

Rebel fighters stormed the government compound at Taftanaz helicopter base in Idlib province. Arab media reported that rebels later evacuated the building after government artillery hit the base from a nearby town.

A rebel commander told Al Arabiya TV that five rebel brigades took part in capturing the base and received help from fighters of the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra. The commander said dozens of government soldiers were captured, along with tanks, armored vehicles and boxes of munitions.

The Syrian government has not responded to the claims.

Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said a number of other government airports and military bases are now under rebel siege.

"The Taftanaz airport is the second largest helicopter base in the country," he said. "This is a huge base and the rebels persistently besieged it and now managed to over-run it, and these rebels have also besieged about four other airports, and other bases are under attack."

Aleppo offensive

Witnesses also said that government forces mounted an offensive in the center of Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, in a bid to break out of a rebel siege.  Government soldiers continue to hold the historic Aleppo citadel and swathes of territory to the east and south of the city.

Rebel commanders in Damascus say that an explosion targeted a convoy carrying top military officials from a security meeting Friday at the presidential palace.  They said that the Iranian ambassador, several Hezbollah commanders and four Russian generals were in that convoy.

There was no government confirmation of the report.

Government forces have been trying to extract rebels from around the capital in recent days, but successes have been limited.

Analyst Kahwaji says the rebels have been making slow, but steady progress.

"It's not a stalemate, because the rebels are making gains," he said. "It's slow progress, but it seems to be a steady progress."

Regime still strong
 
But analyst Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group said the Assad regime still has significant assets, including firepower and strategic tactical positions, which will make any rebel advance long and painful.

"It's quite obvious that the regime is being forced into a fighting retreat, but it remains a more potent enemy than the opposition or commentators abroad want to make of it," he said. "The regime has massive military assets in Damascus, is in control of a large and defensible area on the heights above the capital and also has significant social bases in that part of the country.”

Harling said that rebel forces have “failed to completely uproot the regime” from northern strongholds and he predicts the battle for the capital will be a “challenge” in the months to come.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
January 12, 2013 8:52 AM
Brahimi's peace plan for Syria extends to the breaking point the ability to imagine a 'new' Syria which would require Syria to be a thing. If it is a thing, then it can be perfected by negating all evil deeds done against it, but until we give up this idea, there can be no peace system that doesn't allow raw nature to set the agenda

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 11, 2013 4:28 PM
It is very sad that a transitional agreement, leading to a cease fire has not being brokered. The plight of the civilians must be absolutely horrendous. It is also extremely terrible to see a Turkish army, and their usually granstanding PM, with one of the largest armies in the world, doing nothing to push through humanitarian corridors to help the civilians; and nothing to say about some the best armed/trained Muslim forces in the Gulf, they too should sart making safe humanitarian corridors, with their best equiped Air Forces in the world... I guess everyone is expecting the US/NATO to do the humanitarian relief preparatory/support work...as usual.

by: UsmcJimdaddy E Davis Isst
January 11, 2013 10:10 AM
Syrian rebels have mein blessing as they fight for their lives and for their freedom.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 12, 2013 12:28 AM
Mine too... Their hard work and dedication to their country will prevail. I just hope justice is properly served to Bashar al Assad, hate to hear he kills himself once surrounded.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More